Recovery operation moves toward completion at Florida condo collapse

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Construction equipment is used to dig through the mound of debris from the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building is seen through fencing on July 11, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images

The recovery operation at the site of a collapsed condominium building in Surfside, Florida is moving toward completion, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said at a press conference Tuesday.

The tireless search for more victims in the rubble of Champlain Towers South has entered its third week, and authorities plan to turn their focus to helping victims and families impacted by the collapse, Burkett said.

The death toll has climbed to 95 people with 14 still unaccounted for, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava added.

“Twenty days after this unthinkable tragedy, I could not be prouder of the extraordinary efforts of our partners at every level – local or state or federal partners – they stepped up in so many ways to respond,” Levine Cava said.

“And they have been the core for the families’ recovery, they’ve continued to provide care to the families and the survivors,” she said.

The Family Assistance Center continues to offer mental health counseling as well as financial and housing assistance among other critical services, Levine Cava said. The center has served 213 families so far.

Burkett added that American Airlines and the United Way are working together to fly families and deceased family members to and from Surfside, at no cost.

Authorities announced last week that the possibility of finding someone alive from the collapse was “near zero.” 

The search shifted from a rescue to recovery, and authorities said they hope to conclude search efforts in the coming weeks. Surfside Mayor Burkett emphasized that the search will continue until those who are unaccounted for are found. 

Levine Cava added on Monday that search teams have made significant progress in clearing rubble from the site, with more than 14 million pounds of concrete and debris removed. 

“We are making great progress on the pile,” Levine Cava said Monday. “We are continuing to de-layer and access lower portions of the building.”

The exact cause of the collapse of the 12-story condominium is still unknown. 

Teams from the National Institute of Standards and Technology continue to evaluate the structure’s remains and conduct tests on pieces of concrete from the site. 

The investigation into Champlain Towers South has prompted authorities to inspect other buildings in Miami-Dade County. 

Burkett announced on Monday that inspections of Champlain Towers North, the sister property of the collapsed condominium building, have yielded positive results so far. 

“Early results on the concrete is that the concrete strength is very good,” Burkett said Sunday. “At or beyond the levels at which it should be.”

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